To be honest, I wasn't keen. You can tell by this picture, when I'm not keen I STRIDE WITH PURPOSE. Yes, that's Betsy struggling to keep up with striding angry mum.
It was frosty, frozen, fffreezing cold and I fancied sitting in with a cup of tea and a bag of crochet much more than I fancied trotting round a Tudor mansion. Oh wait. A Tudor mansion? Oh go on then.
This was our second attempt at a visit to The Vyne, our first attempt aborted halfway down the M3 when we realised we had forgotten Betsy's change bag. We could have returned for the bag and set off again but I threw a massive tantrum at the waste of time and the unfairness of it all. Yes I did.
The Vyne was built in the sixteenth century for Henry VIII's Lord Chamberlain, Lord Sandys so in my head I'm picturing big, fat old Henry galloping around the countryside, ripping off greasy chicken legs with the gay abandon of one who could care less about calorie intake and more about squeezing fair handmaiden's bottoms. I find it helps to get into the spirit of these things otherwise it's just another cold walk followed by a look round a musty old house.
Dogs are allowed in the grounds so we walked Tilly through the woods before visiting the house. We stopped off at the bird hide and gawped at the stunning views before having to make a quick getaway lest noisy toddler and annoyed dog scare all the good birds away (the hide was full of whispering twitchers).
It's no easy task managing them pair in a contained environment; Betsy is all wild, energetic and alive, she does not care that it's minus one outside, whilst Tilly is all surly and pully because she's not allowed off the lead. Me, I'm just cooing at the snowdrops and the blue sky and wishing I'd worn a warmer coat.
The house was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1958 and they have kept all the rooms and furniture as they were left by the last owners, the Chutes. It makes it feel warm and homely, well as much as a massive mansion can feel warm and homely. We were on high alert the whole time, terrified that Betsy was going to pull something priceless over or sit on an antique chair and get her bum pricked by the sprigs of holly the staff put on them to stop people from sitting.
We've decided that toddlers and fabulous stately homes do not mix, we were both so stressed and exhausted from redirecting Betsy energy that we came out of the house and just wanted to go home. I loved the place though, so much history, so much beauty and this was in January, probably the coldest, most dreary month in our calendar. We've decided to return in the summer, stroll about in the warmth and picnic amongst the flowers.
Betsy meanwhile is coming back for another go on the tractors! Yeehaw!